(Reuters) - For a self-confessed “adrenaline junkie”, golf presents its own set of challenges that Morgan Hoffmann enjoys getting to grips with.
The 25-year-old New Jersey native has a pilot’s license, like to drive fast cars and is a former ice hockey player, but this week all his focus is on winning his first PGA Tour title at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill.
Hoffmann, who takes a three-shot lead into the third round after opening with a 66 and posting a 65 on Friday, said he turned down a chance to skate with NHL legend Wayne Gretzky just last week.
“I was actually supposed to go to Vegas last week to go skate with Gretzky. He has a celebrity (tournament) for hockey,” said Hoffmann, who picked the flatstick over the hockey stick in high school.
“That would have been fun but I feel a little bit smart and try not to get hurt.”
Hoffmann, a defenseman on the ice, said ice hockey might have been a viable career path.
“I loved it,” the former Oklahoma State golfer said.
“If I wasn’t playing golf I’d be playing hockey for sure. I would like to think I would have gone pretty far but, I had to pick — my dad made me pick one sport in high school and it turned out to be the right choice.”
Hoffmann also has a healthy appetite. He had five eggs, turkey, oatmeal, raspberry and strawberries before his morning tee time and sampled some turkey breast, sweet potatoes and green beans on the course.
He was asked to explain how he is thriving in golf, a pursuit in stark contrast to the fast-paced game of hockey.
“I’m an adrenaline junkie,” he said. “Golf, it’s hard to be calm out there, but it really helps me focus and it’s a challenge for me.
“Off the course I like doing a lot of fast action kind of sports and I get my fix off the course.
“During golf it’s the hardest game I think to play and I love a challenge so it’s fun for me.”
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Peter Rutherford